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Course of the Year

(5,761 words)

Author(s): Goldberg, Sylvie Anne
The original meaning of the rituals and ceremonies of the Jewish course of the year as the markers of changes in the vegetation was already being buried in Biblical times under layers of religious and historical interpretations. This tendency grew even stronger in the diaspora where Jewish festivals were accorded considerable importance in both religious and social life. More recently, since the foundation of the State of Israel, the seasonal-agrarian origin of some festivals has been revitalize…
Date: 2018-11-16


(6,396 words)

Author(s): Goldberg, Sylvie Anne
The Jewish understanding of time rests on biblical foundations and was shaped by ancient rabbinic scholars as well as medieval thinkers and mystics. After the destruction of the Second Temple (70 CE), and, above all, after the final compilation of the Babylonian Talmud (6th or 7th cent. CE), the terminology and the concepts associated with time were standardized and unified. By means of legal and exegetic interpretation of the contradictions found in the Bible, the rabbis, who claimed the…
Date: 2023-10-31


(6,862 words)

Author(s): Goldberg, Sylvie-Anne
Even more than the actual historical dispersal (Hebr.  pizur) of the Jewish people, usually designated by the originally Greek “Diaspora​,” exile (Hebr.  galut) represents one of the decisive concepts of the Jewish religion. To the biblical interpretation of the Babylonian exile as punishment for sins, rabbinic Judaism added the mystically-inspired interpretations of God’s immanence in exile (Aram.  shekhinta ba-galuta) and of the “hidden face [of God]” (Hebr.  hester panim). The traditional conception of exile seemed irreconcilable with modern Jewish self-u…
Date: 2018-11-24


(2,338 words)

Author(s): Goldberg, Sylvie Anne
The attitude to death is an essential part of Jewish self-understanding. Guided by belief in the bodily resurrection in a world to come, to the human body which concerns not only the dead, but also the living body. The doctrines of faith and rituals associated with death promoted a "memorial theology," which places death and everything related to it at the heart of ritual provisions. Although emancipation and secularization shifted the understanding of death to the individual, it remains a central reference point, which expresses the individual's ties to their origin. 1. Principles in…
Date: 2018-11-16

Tishʿah be-Av

(1,822 words)

Author(s): Goldberg, Sylvie Anne
Since Antiquity, the Ninth of Av (Hebr.  tishʿah be-Av) has been one of the most important Jewish days of mourning, lament, and fasting. Tradition holds that the greatest catastrophes and calamities in Jewish history occurred on this day, and many historical events have for this reason been retroactively assigned the same date. The liturgical customs associated with Tishʿah be-Av also award special significance to this day in the Jewish calendar.Tishʿah be-Av is the ninth day of the fifth month in the Jewish religious calendar and the eleventh month in the ci…
Date: 2023-10-31

Ḥevrah Kaddisha

(3,324 words)

Author(s): Goldberg, Sylvie Anne
The Hebrew-Aramaic term  Ḥevrah Kaddisha literally means “sacred brotherhood” or also “sacred society”; it originally denoted an exclusive group of men within the community to whom care for the sick and the burial of the dead was reserved. “Sacred societies” first appeared among Sephardic Jews in the Middle Ages, and spread throughout Europe at the beginning of the early modern period. Conceptions of the “last duty” changed in contact with the surrounding society, as well as under the influence of m…
Date: 2020-05-12


(3,509 words)

Author(s): Goldberg, Sylvie Anne
A variety of calendars was already in use in Judaism in biblical times. An earlier lunar calendar was replaced by a lunisolar calendar of Babylonian origin, based on astronomical observations, which became increasingly exact in the postbiblical period. This calendar was in use both in the Land of Israel and in the entire Diaspora, where competing non-Jewish-majority calendars were also in use, to ensure unified and exact observation of religious festivals (Course of the Year). The Jewish…
Date: 2023-10-24